Minister: ‘More clarity on southern Wadden shipping route before summer’

There is to be more clarity about the risks run by large container ships on the Wadden Sea southern shipping route before summer. This is what Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen (Infrastructure and Water Management) has written in a letter to the Dutch House of Representatives.

In the letter, Van Nieuwenhuizen informs the Dutch Parliament about sailing routes over the Wadden Islands, after seven containers of the OOCL Rauma were thrown overboard earlier this month. As a result, the discussion about sailing along the Wadden Islands has flared up again in politics.

Dutch political parties such as ChristenUnie, D66, CDA, PvdA, GroenLinks and the SP want the Minister to do more to close the southern route to shipping.

Closing the route

The Netherlands cannot decide to block a shipping route on its own, but can make a request to the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Various parties therefore want the Minister to submit a request to the IMO together with Germany to be allowed to close this route.

Van Nieuwenhuizen also intends to join forces with Germany, but first wants to await the results of the research initiated by the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN) in order to gain more insight into the risks posed by large container ships in various weather conditions sailing above the Wadden Islands.

The investigation was initiated after the container disaster with the MSC Zoe at the beginning of last year. The minister expects the results before the summer. ‘Based on this, we can come up with initial proposals that can be submitted to the IMO Safety Committee after the summer,’ says Van Nieuwenhuizen.

This article first appeared (in Dutch) on Nieuwsblad Transport, a sister publication of SWZ|Maritime.

Picture: The OOCL Rauma lost seven containers near the Wadden Islands (picture by the Dutch Coastguard).

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.